Friday, April 29, 2011

Down South, the lost ephemera of lives torn apart

The American South is just starting the long process of picking up the pieces and putting itself back together in the aftermath of this week's devastating round of tornadoes that killed more than 300 people.

In the wake of the tragedy, a fascinating and heartening project has emerged on Facebook: a page titled "Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes".

Nobody is pretending that the scattered ephemera of so many shattered communites and households should be given priority at this moment. Those in the South who were affected need medical care, clean water, food and places to sleep.

But if getting back that irreplaceable picture of a baby or a great-grandmother can help some survivors reclaim a piece of their lives or their family history, that's worth something, right?

So, as thousands of pieces of paper were blown miles from their original location and even into adjacent states, a curious thing happened. Someone decided that, instead of stuffing all of that "trash" into garbage bags and sending it to a landfill or incinerator, they would post images of the photos, letters and documents -- some only tattered scraps and pieces -- on Facebook and see if the owners can eventually be found.

It is one of the most innovative and noble uses of Facebook I've seen.

Here are a few more of the hundreds of images of found photos and ephemera that have been posted on Facebook:

All of these images -- and contact information for the people who found them -- can be found on "Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes". Check it out, and please spread the word. Anyone in the world might be able to identify some of the people in these photos or names on these documents.

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely the best PaperGreat post yet. Thank you so much.